Almost every state has a timeless and authentic heart and soul, and in central Florida, it’s considered to be Polk County.
With no shortage of fascinating places, Polk County is set in the midst of spectacular gardens, endless lakes and fragrant citrus groves, and a vibrant and diverse area sprinkled with culture, history and charm.
Ride a bike, hop on a boat, or take a hike through pristine parks, rivers, swamps, forests and nature areas. Tee off in a golfer’s paradise, or if you prefer, go waterskiing in this celebrated Water Ski Capital of the World. Further enhancing its allure, Polk County provides the perfect home base for world-famous theme parks and beautiful Florida beaches, all within easy reach.
Polk County’s small towns are peppered with hidden treasures ready to explore or take up permanent residence.
The largest single–site collection of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s inspired buildings is set on the campus of Florida Southern College. The architecture collection, described by Wright as a “Child of the Sun” (out of the ground and into the light), received a National Register of Historic Places designation in the mid-1970s. You can admire them on a self-guided tour.
Hollis Garden on Lake Mirror Park chronicles Florida’s history from the beginning of the state’s agrarian period to the modern era. With more than 10,000 flowers, ornamental shrubs, and shade trees, the Rosette Plaza and fountain is a perfect stepping point to explore the garden’s rooms, paths, and stunning eclectic sculpture.
The Polk Museum of Art, a work of art in itself, bridges the historic and modern. The museum showcases a permanent collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, a beautiful sculpture garden, and exciting changing exhibits.
Stretching out across the crest of “Iron Mountain,” the highest point in the Florida peninsula is Historic Bok Sanctuary. The Sanctuary’s 205-foot Gothic and Art Deco tower houses one of the world’s finest singing carillons. The Sanctuary is also home to a colony of wood ducks and 126 other wild bird species, and is a designated site on the Great Florida Birding Trail.
Westgate River Ranch lets you unleash your inner cowboy. An authentic “Dude Ranch” experience awaits you at this 1,700-acre ponderosa of winding trails on the banks of the Kissimmee River.
Plunge into the blue skies of the past at the aviation-themed Fantasy of Flight. The attraction houses the world’s largest private collection of vintage aircraft. The centerpiece of Fantasy of Flight’s five-airplane fleet is a huge Short Sunderland, the last airworthy four-engine civilian flying boat in the world.
Don’t forget there’s also LEGOLAND Florida, the newest theme park! The 150-acre property offers a unique mix of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, along with restaurants, shops and a beautiful botanical garden (the former Cypress Gardens).
Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau; sunsational.org
Photos: Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau